Despite a stellar $73 million opening weekend for the very well-reviewed “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” the overall weekend was down 26% over last year. This translates to the full year of 2014 slipping further and further behind 2013 (-5.2%).
In worse news, out of the previous 5 years, 2014 is now pacing behind 4 of those years and only 3.5% ahead of 2011, a disastrous year.
Little is likely to change with “Planes: Fire and Rescue,” “Purge: Anarchy,” and “Sex Tape” opening this Friday. “Planes” and “Purge” are both sequels to films that didn’t do that well to begin with.
Last year, during this same weekend, “Pacific Rim” and Adam Sandler’s comedy smash “Grown Ups 2” both opened huge.
The good news is that this summer has been all triples and no errors. Nothing so far released this summer has tanked in the way “White House Down,” “After Earth” and “The Lone Ranger” did in 2013. The bad news is that there have been no grand slam home runs like “Iron Man 3” and “Hunger Games: Catching Fire.”
With only a few films crossing the $200 million mark and nothing edging even close to $300 million, much less $400 million, it has been a marginal summer but one without any catastrophes.
Things look much better for Hollywood overseas, but it’s much more expensive to advertise in foreign territories and studios only recoup 25% of their grosses from China.
Pleasing American audiences is still the most cost-effective and profitable way to make movies. This year, American audiences are pleased but not overwhelmed.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC